Plugged In

The Week in Review

Business is about to pick up. Gaming business, that is.

Tuesday’s Madden O8 launch signals the beginning of the fall video game rush. From now until the end of the year, gamers are going to be bombarded with new releases each week. And I’m not talking about lousy licensced movie tie-ins here. No, this is the good stuff.

So go ahead and celebrate “Maddenoliday.” Just remember that this year, the best is yet to come. Now on with the news:

It seems only right, since we’re talking about big games soon to be released, that we start The Week in Review with the latest about Halo 3. After all, it’s Master Chief’s world — we’re just living in it. Microsoft announced this week that the third installment of Bungie’s FPS has already surpassed 1 million preorders. That, according to Microsoft, makes Halo 3 the fastest-selling preordered title ever.

And the mainstream Halo 3 hype is just beginning. Mountain Dew is releasing a new flavor, Game Fuel, featuring the Halo brand. Master Chief will be making an appearance at 7-Eleven in the form of three collectible Slurpee cups. Pontiac, Burger King and Comcast are also planning special Halo 3 promotions.

Believe it or not, there’s also some Halo 3 news that actually involves the game, itself. The folks over at IGN.com have unveiled the latest weapons in Master Chief’s arsenal — the flame thrower and firebombs. Check out the story here.

Those of you who purchased an Xbox 360 Elite console solely for its HDMI output may want to stop reading. Microsoft has begun to add HDMI functionality to less-expensive Premium bundles, meaning the only advantage to owning an Elite is the larger hard drive. Premium consoles retail for $349.99, while the Elites go for $449.99. HDMI, considered the best way to connect high-definition entertainment devices to an HDTV, had been a noticably absent feature on the Xbox 360 and was one advantage offered by the PlayStation 3.

And finally, who doesn’t love Jeff Foxworthy? Wait, don’t answer that. But for those of you who can’t get enough of the Blue Collar comedian, THQ has announced plans to bring all the excitement of Foxworthy’s hit Fox game show, “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” to the PC and Nintendo DS later this year. The trivia game will feature the “usual drama of a grade school classroom, with players forming alliances and working their way to the head of the class by cheating and copying off students” and includes more than 3,000 questions in 23 categories. We’ll have more on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader in the weeks to come.